22
Dec
2008

Sunset Boulevard at The Comedy Theatre

‘Darlings I’m ready for my close-up’ cries the personification of glamour as the audience of the Comedy Theatre are treated to a voyeuristic glance into the opulent excesses and corruption of ’50s Hollywood that is paramount to Sunset Boulevard.

The revival of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production also carries the credits of choreography and direction for Craig Revel-Horwood and musical arrangement for Sarah Travis. Based on the 1950 Billy Wilder film, this Gothic masterpiece tells the tale of Norma Desmond, a faded starlet who failed to make the transition from silent movies to the talkies and is quite the Hollywood Miss Haversham.

Kathryn Evans projects this lead role masterfully, exuding glamour and melodrama. This part was made for her, and it is not an easy one. In two hours and fifteen minutes the audience see Norma’s downward spiral from exuberant femme to a desperate ageing woman teetering on the cusps of destruction.

Ben Goddard’s performance matches in credibility as his portrayal displays a varied and complex repertoire of characteristics. Understandably Joe Gillis exudes a naïve arrogance which is justified in the young aspiring writer stemming from his new-found prosperity, kindly donated by the doting Norma. However, Joe also shows tenderness towards Norma and a desperation to escape her dependent clutches.

Space is something that is used ingeniously in such an intimate venue. The small area is quickly transformed from an opulent mansion into a swimming pool and a party with the use of a spiral staircase-come-organ, some swimming pool steps and a chez-lounge that when turned over doubles-up as a neon bar sign.

The cast manoeuvres around in an effortlessly seamless fashion. Not only is the possibility of size being a hindrance completely turned into an advantage, but the ingenious use of the instruments as props provides a quirky charm to this adaptation, for example when Norma is being pampered the ensemble use their string bows as nail files.

The multi-talented ensemble not only performs masterfully but also plays the music. Unfortunately the baroque score sometimes overpowers the cast’s voices at points, but Revel-Horwood has achieved a superb depiction, and the choreography is faultless. The rich performances and wealthy production of this small-scale production provides a somewhat sumptuous evening to be had.

Sunset Boulevard
The Comedy Theatre
Panton Street
SW1 4DN

Box Office: 0870 060 6637

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